‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1′ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated December 12th, 2014 at 9:41 pm,

Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 Bella Edward The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn   Part 1 Review

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 succeeds in transferring the key events from its source material onto the screen, but fails at translating those events into a competent two-hour film.

Two-part finales have become a go-to approach for studios to milk extra money out of fan-favorite young adult franchises – and arguably a way to give lengthier final book installments a bit more room to wrap everything up. While audiences were initially skeptical of the idea when it was introduced with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the success of the final two Potter films (both commercially and critically) seemingly justified the extra trip to the theater.

However, can the same be said for fellow-young adult fantasy series Twilight and the debut of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1? As the longest entry in Stephenie Meyer’s book series but is there enough material in the final chapter in the Twilight Saga to fill two feature length films?

Unfortunately, judging by the events unfolding in Breaking Dawn: Part 1, the answer is no.

At least half of the film is dominated by one melodramatic scene after another – in place of either interesting character interactions or exciting action – essentially laying ground for the (presumably) more stimulating Part 2. Even die-hard fans of the books will likely find that at least two of the more pivotal moments from the printed page do not translate well to the big screen – and, as result, once again reveal glaringly poor production values and uninspired direction in a film series that, cumulatively, has earned Summit Films over $1 billion worldwide.

Unlike the prior Twilight films, which offered self-contained and mostly engaging story lines (albeit still guilty pleasure melodrama), the first half of Breaking Dawn is a mishmash of moments that fail to build tension or further develop any of the fan-favorite characters. The basic plot follows the marriage of bloodsucker Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and his bride-to-be Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) as they prepare for their nuptials. While the wedding is a grand and joyous affair, not everyone is happy; cast-aside Werewolf/ex-love interest Jacob (Taylor Lautner) attempts to deal with not just Bella’s choice to marry Cullen, but her decision to become a vampire as well. As the wedding bells fall silent, the newlyweds unexpectedly threaten the tenuous alliance between Cullen’s vampire family and Jacob’s Werewolf clan – causing former friends, as well as reluctant allies, to choose sides.

Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 Jacob The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn   Part 1 Review

Taylor Lautner returns as Jacob in ‘Breaking Dawn Part 1′

In general, the events in Breaking Dawn – Part 1 are, simply put, underwhelming. While die-hard fans may find the extended honeymoon sequence cathartic – since the films and books have often been criticized for being too “tame” when it comes to sexuality – all of the lustful looks and “passionate” make-out sessions entirely derail any momentum and charm the film had coming out of the opening act. Instead of pulling in the cast of colorful personalities that have helped balance the book and film series with humor – in spite of all the melodrama from the three leads – Breaking: Dawn: Part 1 revels in spending all of its time indoors with characters arguing about what to do next, instead of actually doing anything screen worthy. While some fans will no doubt defend the film by saying Breaking: Dawn – Part 1 is just being true to the source material – it’s the responsibility of filmmakers to take a printed story and make it sing as a two-hour movie. This could have been accomplished by making a couple of the “action” sequences significantly more exciting, or a few of the pivotal character moments more convincing, in order to help break audiences out of the repetitive funk the storyline wallows in for the majority of the proceedings.

Instead of striving for a more competent film experience, Breaking Dawn: Part 1 is simply pandering to the existing fan-base with almost nothing of value to anyone who isn’t already in love with the characters. Where more inspired filmmaking could have potentially found ways to thrill or engage a non-fan audience, the filmmakers of Breaking Dawn: Part 1 – specifically oscar-winning director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) – were overly eager to “give the people what they want,” which essentially amounts to a lot of Bella on Edward action and some combination of Jacob with his shirt off moping around. Potentially interesting character beats (such as an early admission by Cullen) have no gravity and are simply abandoned/glossed over in favor of warm embraces and pouty looks.

The Twilight films have never been known for high production values, or even particularly stand-out performances (despite the claims of impassioned Team Edward/Jacob fans), and those trends continue with Breaking Dawn: Part 1. The film looks cheap with bland CGI werewolves and vampire effects – and for a series that is raking in plenty of money with each release, it’s surprising to see such flat visuals at this point. Similarly, despite a stable of up-and-coming actors that includes Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner, as well as critical darlings like Anna Kendrick and Michael Sheen, none of the actors are given any room to deliver a stand-out performance.

Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 Wedding The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn   Part 1 Review

Bella and Edward’s wedding in ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1′

Given the amount of quick cuts – with basically no extended takes – it’s almost as if each actor is competing with one another onscreen for close-up shots, one line at a time. It’s unfortunate, because despite all the anti-Twilight detractors out there, the franchise leads have shown that they’re capable of offering strong performances when a director attempts to get something more interesting out of them (Stewart in Welcome to the Rileys and Pattinson in Water for Elephants). In that sense, it’s disappointing to see that capable performers and intriguing premises haven’t matured the Twilight series from film to film.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 succeeds in transferring the key events from its source material onto the screen, but fails at translating those events into a competent two-hour film. Fans of the book and movie series will no doubt enjoy watching the film – though, it’s still hard to imagine that they won’t, deep down, find a few of the book’s more decisive moments to be overly cheesy, or even downright laughable. Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is not a competent piece of filmmaking and stands as potentially the worst installment in the series. Hopefully, given the much more intriguing plot points saved for Part 2, the final installment will end the series on a high note.

If you’ve already seen the film and want to talk about various plot details without ruining them for others, head over to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 spoilers discussion.

However, if you’re still on the fence about The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, check out the trailer below:

[poll id=”216″]

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick – and let us know what you thought of the film below:

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is now in theaters.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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  1. Normally I am envious that reviewers get paid to see movies as a job. However, this is the one time that I feel bad that you had to watch this. I sort of just want to hug you and say “It’s okay”

    • John- As a fan of the series and a die hard Twi hard I must say I felt like a I needed a hug when this was over. I felt like I had lost my two best friends (Edward and Bella) in translation. It really was a fight between being pissed off and being happy to look forward to part 2. Robert or Kristen were not glorified enough, the special effects were all better in the first three movies and the music was just… music. However, I am going to see it again today regardless becasue I love seeing Robsten on screen together even in this medeocre film.

  2. Ben, I applaud you for being able to stay awake to see the entire film. You must have had a 5-hour/Red Bull concoction to see this crap movie. :-)

  3. I’m surprised to see it’s got 2.5 to be honest. This sounds awful

  4. I would need the caffiene injected directly into my veins with a large bore IV to even have a remote chance of sitting through this snooze fest..

    I don’t get the 2.5 stars because your review certainly did not make this film good enough to be a 2.5..

    • After discussing it with Ben, we’ve knocked it down to a 2. I didn’t think the score really matched the review either.


    • Hey guys – Sorry, I meant to have another look at the score before it went live. Ultimately, it’s underwhelming and will likely be even for fans but… it mostly delivers on what fans are probably hoping for.

      Is it a good movie alone? No.

      Does it deliver for its audience? Almost.

      • 2 might still be too much. Are negative numbers a possibility? 😀

        OK, Twilighters! Put the bats, tar and feather machines, down…it was just a joke. 😛

        • Heh, bats was an unintentional pun.

          • 😀 I love it! Wish I had thought of that.

        • Kahless, according to my sister in law, Pattinson hates the movies and bashes them in the commentaries.

  5. I’ve been lead to believe that the terrible movie by M Night “Lady In The Water” was done as a story for his daughter. While I think various writers and directors do that, I found his attempt terrible and I refuse to watch any more by him. The Twilight series sounds like it falls into this category; they don’t really care if the movie is “good”, they are just making a movie for an audience that is guaranteed to come out in droves to see it. Not caring for quality.

  6. Exactly. It is pointless reviewing these films. If you gave this 1 star it wouldn’t make a difference. People are still gonna see this absolute rubbish and say it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen.

  7. I love the pic that comes up in the trailer preview. Reminds me of Beavis and Butthead when they question if she is a zombie because she always has her mouth open.

  8. I am SO DISAPPOINTED!! Breaking Dawn was terrible. It was campy, cartoonish, and contrived. SUCH a letdown! The soundtrack was wrong, it wasn’t true to story, there was a total departure from the hip edgy styling… and we have to live through a second one by the same director! UGGGHHH!!! I loved the books and I loved the previous movies, but I hated Breaking Dawn. They left out the best lines from the book, and made horrible additions. I call for a re-make from any one of the other directors!

    • i dont know what hip, edgy styling your talking about.

    • I agree that this movie should be remade! Before seeing Breaking Dawn I told myself to be open and not judge it right away. But from the first dream sequence I was disappointed. It looked to “un-twilight” and corny. A pile of dead friends and family? It just looked cheap! The special effects and running were lame. It just looked too cheap.
      Also the score was HORRIBLE. We have finally had two great score composers like Alexandre Desplat and Howard Shore who did phenomenal jobs with the last two installments. I knew Carter was the wrong choice for this one when it was announced because his music is unsatisfactory and sounds like it’s from an old soap opera. The score for this took away from the movie and was a distraction since it sounded so awful. I didn’t even like most of the soundtrack when I first heard it because it wasn’t that indie vibe we had with the others.
      This installment just feels like it comes from a completely different franchise and it makes me angry that the movie turned out this way. Usually I go to see them at least 2 times in theaters, but I am not going back. I really hope part 2 isn’t as disappointing, and I hope they either get a different composer or bring back Shore or Desplat!

  9. Highly disappointing that the production didn’t do better. Perhaps the script was so boring even the director fell asleep during shoots or hired a stand in while he got a few extra afternoons out on the links. I sincerely hope this doesn’t put top execs off making complex stories multiple movies. As an audience member, it isn’t the fact that I’ll have to wait for the next installment to finish the story that’s putting me off from catching the latest movie, but lousy execution! Thank’s Ben for taking the time to I.d. what’s dead from the undead in this…

    • Condon – OK…action!

      (Bella and Edward stare into each others eyes for 30 minutes)

      Condon – ZZZZZZZ!!!!

      Stewart – Bill? Bill?! Bill???!!!

      Condon – Oh, uh, cut! That’s a wrap! (under voice) Thankfully.


      • LOL…

  10. I saw this movie last night and about half way through, I found myself wondering if I liked it or hated it. The movie should NOT have started off the way it did. The whole film was just weird to me.. The wedding was entirely too long as well as the honeymoon. I kept looking at my watch to see if the movie was almost over and unfortunately it wasn’t. The sex scene was mediocre and we saw some unwanted nipple. Alice was BARELY in it and her haircut was horrible. I didn’t like all of the “life” scenes and “dream” scenes. The score in the beginning where Edward showed up in bella’s bedroom was annoying and wrong. The action in the movie was pretty much non-existent and lasted for what seemed like one minute. I did like the whole “birth” scene although it was terribly bloody and i absolutely HATED that they showed her dead on the table for soooo long, it was a tad bit frightening after just seeing one of my family members die. With all of that said, there were more bad parts than good ones. I thought the second film was my least favorite but breaking dawn part 1 has fully taken that spot. With this badly executed movie…I’m afraid for what part 2 holds….

    • In the book it takes 3 days to transform from human to vampire and a lot of screaming pain. Because Bella Swan has the ability to block she blocked the pain but you could see her suffering in her mind. I thought the death scene was absolutely fantastic. She truly looked starved to death. The movies are for the fans of Stephanie Meyers books. I appreciate that the books were followed. The wedding was very much as written. Kudos to Rosenberg on this challenge. There was a cameo of Stephanie Meyer at the wedding too. RECOMMEND reading the books.
      ~~ Chris aka Wolfeagle

  11. You know, I find it very amusing that a film about vampires and werewolves does not include horror/thriller as part of its genre: Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy. 😀

    And where does Science Fiction come into play here?

    • I can see Sci-fi & fantasy combined into a category since after Star wars the line really blurred.
      But I was always confused when video stores lumped sci-fi and horror together.

      • Event Horizon is one of the few I would say is a Sci-Fi/Horror film. But what in BD is Sci-Fi?

        • The Alien saga is a great Sci-Fi/Horror combo, John.

          This Twilight stuff just makes me want to vomit.

        • Alien is one that would say is sci-fi/horror (or sci-fi/suspense), but I figured the category was probably based on the old b/w sci-fi films, like Them and Angry Red Planet.

          • Well not to butt in or anything but I’d say the prototypical one would be the 1931 version of “Frankenstein.” Wouldn’t you guys agree? There have been horror/SciFi titles though in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s too; “The Earth Dies screaming”, “The Day of The Triffids”, “Scanners”, “Videodrome”, “TerrorVision”, “Planet Of The Vampires”, “Queen of Blood”, “The Flesh Eaters”, “The Hidden” and others…

  12. I saw this film last night with my friends and I thought is was so boring. The CGI was crap, the acting was absolutely terrible, and the script was awful. I’m so surprised that “twi-hards” don’t see how bad the twilight movies really are. And how is the last movie going to be epic? nothing exciting happened in the second half of the book!!! There was no epic battle or anything.

    • Did you even read the books? If the 2nd movie is made right, unlike part 1, there should be plenty of action

  13. Ok Ben or Vic,

    For someone who loved the books but has been disappointed in the movies mostly due to screenplay, should I spend time or money on going to see this or wait til its out on video?

    • wait
      I feel the same way

    • I haven’t seen it (yet) but I’d put my money on renting it.


  14. My wife already bought the tickets for tomorow´s show, let´s trade saturdays! anyone???????????? ANYONE???????????????

    • Dude, you are so alone. Even if I was forced to see Jack & Jill, I wouldn’t trade tickets to see BD.

  15. I have seen it twice, as most fans have and I am torn. I really liked how several scenes really captured the book such as: Jake and Bella’s honeymoon conversation, Bella’s honeymoon bliss and subsequent negotiations, Edwards sincerity during his toast…. It was what I pictured, Bella’s trepidation was captured, and Charlie always delivers. The wedding was beautiful and the birth scene was pretty accurate. Now for the bad…the too bright and inaccurate dream sequence and uber cheesy wolf telepathic conversation was physically painful to watch and I was embarrassed for the actors who have really become confident in the characters they portray but I think that credit for enhanced character development belongs to the actors themselves rather than the director. The wolf telepathic conversation selection of music was also overtly dramatic and made a bad scene worse. I think the biggest mistake in this movie was knowing was scenes to edit out and scratching the soundtrack/score because the vibe isn’t working. I liked the overall movie but a few parts were very disappointing and I do hope part 2 is better.

    • You hit the nail on the head with your observation. The music/score just did not fit for this movie. I really wish Summit would listen to the audience’s reaction and possibly get rid of Burwell for part 2…It would be awesome if they brought back Desplat or Shore who can make masterpieces!

  16. I am appauled by this movie. I am a huge fan and have read this book a million times and whiel they may have stayed “true” the book, there were things that should have been left out. The talking wolve thing ruined it for me and the flash to Jacob during the honeymoon was horrible. It was very choppy in the begining and after waiting a year to see this it was a huge let down. I am not sure what Bill Condon was thinking and I do not blame the actors but the editing crew and CGI was horrible. I am very saddened right now to even write this review because while the movies may not be oscar worthy I have enjoyed them but this was just terrible. I truly hope Bill let’s it sink in to his head that he really needs to step up his game when editing the second part which is my favorite.

    • oscar worthy? HA! Never in a million years

      • Of course it won’t. Never expected it to that was my point in that I truly enjoyed some of the movies but this was horrible and I am glad I am not the only one.

    • I agree with you. The main issue I have with this movie was the horrible score by Carter Burwell. Most of the score for this movie was horrible and even ruined some of the scenes because it sounded like an old soap opera. They brought on 2 amazing composers like Desplat and Shore and then go back to this mediocre music.
      The editing was pretty bad, and the CGI and special effects seemed pretty cheap. I was so disappointed because I knew that with each different director the past 3 movies have been a little different from each other, but this one was strange. The dream sequences were awkward and cheap looking. I really hope part 2 feels more like past movies otherwise I will be pissed again

  17. Watch the first Twilight and prepare to die laughing. How many times can Bella huff, Eddy glare, and Jacob take his shirt off? Drinking game anybody?

    I just laugh because these are teenagers movies that add nothing to anyones lives.

  18. Well to each their own and like I have said before, I do enjoy the story however this was done all wrong. I think it is a mistake to wait until next year for the second part. Considering how bad the first part was and I am not saying it was all bad but still; they need to release it within 6 months or else I am afraid they will just lose more fans but hey that is up to them I guess.

  19. I’m still speechless that normally sane people would spend their money to see this drivel (over and over…..and OVER)

  20. me and my friend went to see the film and we are both under 15. We love the other films but this was nothing like the others it was tow gory and graphic when Bella has the child. It was really confusing and over the top this should not be rated 12A it’s more like a 15 !!! We didn’t like it, it was a big down fall it’s such a shame !!!! :-(

  21. I loved the movie. Thought Kristen, Rob & Taylor did a fantastic job. I thoroughly enjoyed the wedding, the honeymoon, seeing “Isle Esme” . The birth scene was truly scary and the CGI handling of Bella was too extreme. But all in all I thought it was quite true to the book. I loved song selection-especially “Turning Page” and “A Thousand Years”. Yes, I can see the CGI effects were a little fakey, I saw it Fri @ 7:30 and will try to catch an early feature on Sun morning. Can’t wait for Part 2 ! I’ll probably start my count down on 1/2/2012. Yes I am the
    oldest in my group of 5–ages ranging from 23 to 57. 1 guy + 4 women.

  22. Yeah – this movie was bad even for a Twilight movie. My wife couldn’t wait to see it so I got advance tickets and waited in line for an hour surrounded by all the highschoolers.

    I was looking forward more to the soundtrack than the film, but that was even a let-down. I kindof enjoyed the first and third movies, but this was just slow and akward and… well…

  23. Well you load of miserable sods, I thought the film suited the books and why should it not? Or suit a wider audience for that matter? If you don’t like the books then chances you wouldn’t like the film and also the film for the book lovers is a nice way to see them on screen, if you have read the book the silent glances etc can be filled as you know what they all mean, the wedding could have been cut down and I have always thought that the other characters never got enough screen time but the film does it justice and once the 2nd part is out I’m sure it will all fit together nicely like 1 long film, if people can sit through 3 hours of titanics ‘Rose and jack’ then this 2 part film will be great!!!!

    • Miserable sods Amanda, UHH no.. In the previous movies those silences went on way too long, especially if you never read the books. You would think that with the ton of money made over the previous movies they would’ve put some back into this production. Lousy effects, missed opportunities, lousy score, well, you read this review right? It sounds to me like the production didn’t get the love and attention it needed to flourish. Such a pity too. Now I have to duck the women in my life who hope beyond hope that the reviews and opinions are all wrong and will want me to suffer with them, no thanks!

      They’d be way better off to go buy “Gone With The Wind”, “The Way We Were”,”One Last Kiss”, “High School Musical”, “Stick It”, “Little Shop Of Horrors”, “Dr. Zhivago”,”The Goodbye Girl 1977″, “Dear Frankie”, “Moonstruck”, “The Phantom of The Opera 2004″, “The Notebook” or “A Walk to Remember.” Any of those are infinitely better than what this is described as being. Don’t mistake all of us guys as being unable to recognize a good romance movie when they see it. I’ve personally seen all those movies above as well as the previous Twilight movies…

  24. Hi I love twilight sagas I love Jacob he is awesome and has gr8 Abbs

  25. I couldn’t agree more with your review. The direction was just awful. It was like Condon sucked all the love out of a love story. Thanks for the honest assessment. Most of the other reviews were filled with psycho Twilight hate. When part 2 comes out I will still go see it – gotta finish what I start. Too bad it also is directed by Condon.

  26. the movie was amazing…it was my favorite out of all of them and i dont know why know one mentioned the last part that part gave me goosebumps !!!

  27. I personally think that breaking dawn part1 was the best of the series! However, I am
    twi hard, and looking back on it, it was still THE BEST FILM I HAVE EVER SEEN, but it
    was really for fans- there were quite a few ‘inside’ jokes that you would have to know the characters and the previous movies to
    understand. But because of this, and the fact that I’m a fan, means that i thought film was amazing and a good balance of romance and excitement. And to be honest, surely there’s no one who could say that the cliffhanger was EXTREMELY Dramatic?!!!

    • I am a “twi-hard” as well. I was drooling over the books before anyone even thought they were cool (and everyone was making fun of me for it!). However, I thought the movie was terrible. Long and drawn out, the acting was, as usual, not up to par, the music did not fit, the effects we just so-so, and they left out some really good stuff!

  28. Terrible! Felt like it was a straight to DVD movie! Highly disappointed :(